‘No discussion on land border’ says Sefcovic

The European Commission vice-president says he has not discussed UK proposals that would restore the border on the island of Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 14th February 2021, 2:38 pm
Michael Gove.
Michael Gove.

A report in the Sunday Telegraph said Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is now considering an alternate “mutual enforcement” plan to the Northern Ireland protocol on Brexit.

It would remove the border from the Irish Sea and restore the land border in Ireland, and would require the UK and EU “to apply checks at the same level as each other”.

But speaking on Sunday, Maros Sefcovic said his discussions with Mr Gove this week had focused on the implementation of the protocol.

He told RTE’s The Week In Politics: “What we discussed with Michael Gove was very much focused on the implementation of the protocol.

“For us what was a priority is the prosperity of the island of Ireland, unconditional support for peace and, of course, avoiding the hard border.

“These are the three key parameters which been the primary objective for signing up and negotiating the protocol. We are looking into the old possibilities, how to make sure that this would work.”

Mr Sefcovic said the use of trusted trader schemes, simplifying export health certificates and extending the grace period for traders were measures being considered to smooth the implementation of the protocol.

He said there were many “benefits” for Northern Ireland which need to be explored. He said: “I believe that we found a very unique solution where Northern Ireland is part of the single market, and at the same time off course it is the part of the internet UK market.

“So I think there is the unique possibility for Northern Ireland to develop new jobs, new growth and to have really, a very, very special place in both in single market and also in the internal UK market.”

Mr Sefcovic apologised for the EU’s recent attempt to trigger Article 16 of the protocol.

The move has led to Unionist calls for Westminster to now invoke the clause, which would create a border on the island of Ireland.

He said: “The bottom line is that mistakes were made in the process leading up to the decision, and we all deeply regret it.

“But in the end, and it was not more than three hours.